What if we lived a life of excessive generosity instead of just excess?
Generosity is like anything else. It needs to be practiced. Our initial reaction when confronted with someone asking for any sort of sponsorship, donation, contribution, hand-out, or whatever you want to call it, is “No.” Often, we respond before we even process what is being asked.
A young man came to our door last month selling biblical literature to help fund his education. I think it was his education, anyway, it could have been a mission trip or something different all together. The truth is, I wasn’t paying attention. We were eating dinner and I simply didn’t want to be bothered. My husband went to the door and politely tried to tell this very persistent young man, that “we didn’t need any.” The kid was nervously applying his rejection strategies and asking more questions, when I was suddenly struck by our lack of generosity. Here we are trying to inspire the world to be generous and telling leaders to lead out in generosity, and on our own front porch, we are turning someone away. Our response to this young man was pretty much, we already found Jesus, good luck to you, good bye.
Why are we so turned off when someone asks for money?
Why is it, the $20 requested by the young salesman, or $1 requested from a homeless person carrying a sign seems substantial in the moment, when in-reality, we randomly spend more money than that each day. I hide behind my previous giving, my intended giving, and my regular committed church giving. When the truth is one really doesn’t have a lot to do with the other.
I could contribute something to every door-to-door adventurer (granted I live off the beaten path and get very few) or homeless person with a sign or singer with a cup that crosses my path.
I know the reasons for disregarding this practice. It is not the smartest way to give. The receiver could be squandering the funds or there isn’t enough accountability within the process. My go-to reason is that I am already giving someplace else, and how much could I possibly give away?
The truth is, to participate in the practice of living generously, I would need to be more conscious about my funds and actions.
There is a balance between living with what is enough and living with excess. We are a culture of excess and our excess drives us to need more. What if, we committed to living in enough and challenged ourselves to get rid of the excess because out of this excess, we can address the needs of others.
My daughter has more clothes crammed in her closet than she could ever wear or would ever wear, and yet before school started, we marched down to Justice and dropped some bills on new jeans and tops. Yes, she is adorable, but that purchase was well beyond need, and could probably fund our spontaneous giving for a good chunk of the year.
If we choose to live with less, we gain the opportunity to give more.
To form the habit of being generous, we need to first commit to the idea of being generous. It’s counter-cultural. We need to decide in advance how we are going to behave in certain situations and then be prepared to behave accordingly. If I want to have the availability to bless people on the streets, I need to have money designated for this purpose in my possession. If you are hung up on the misappropriation of the funds you are donating on the street, fill your envelope with grocery store gift cards or coupons. The point is to be prepared and be intentional.
We did end up buying books from the young man who came to our door, shamefully as an after-thought and a scramble to find cash. Obviously, the exchange wasn’t about gaining the book. I tried not to take the book; I still haven’t looked at the book. It was about the practice. It was about being aware and conscious of our actions. It was about making the decision to behave a certain way and then following through with that behavior. If our aim is to touch lives, and our goal is to live for Jesus, it doesn’t matter how our $20s, $5s and $1s are spent after they leave our hands. We were obedient in living generously and in following Christ.
Act Generous, Feel Generous, Be Generous.
We are on mission to promote generosity. I hope you can join us.